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The Bitten Body

A. C. Spahn wanted to be an interstellar starship captain when she grew up. Since nobody was hiring, she became a writer instead. She enjoys training in martial arts, organizing messy rooms, and researching a hobby-of-the-month. When not commanding imaginary starships, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and feline overlord. She is the author of the Endurance series of comedic sci-fi novellas and short stories appearing in Outposts of Beyond, Disturbed Digest, and other publications.

"He was killed within the last fifteen minutes," said Detective Faraday, trying to keep his eyes off the sprawled corpse. "We have two suspects, but any insight you have would be helpful, Professor Watt."
"No need for titles, Detective," Cara Watt said absently as she knelt to examine the body. The man was in his late twenties. Light brown hair, green eyes. His throat had been savaged, ripped out by violent teeth. He lay between the two rows of sinks in the restaurant bathroom, his blood painting the marble tile beneath him. "I see the obvious cause of death," said Cara, "but what happened to the back of his head?"
"Blunt force trauma. Looks like he fell against the sink during the--"
"Attack." Detective Faraday swallowed and avoided her eyes.
Cara cocked her head. "Are you new to Watson Ridge, Detective?"
"Just transferred here last week."
"Still getting used to the supernatural community?"
"Um... yeah." He eyed her. "You're not... are you... ?"
"It's not polite to ask a lady if she's human." Turning back to the body, she asked, "Any sign of weapons?"
"Not natural ones, if that's what you mean."
"Teeth are more natural than knives, aren't they?"
The detective blanched. "I didn't mean--"
"Relax, Detective. I'm joking." Cara stood, then reached to turn off the still-running faucet with one gloved hand. The over-sink mirror reflected her wavy blonde hair and dark brown eyes. She was tall, almost the same height as the detective, though her work heels made their heights even today. She sucked in her cheeks, then blew out a thoughtful breath. "I'm ready to talk to your suspects."
Faraday made a short call, and a moment later three uniformed police officers escorted a pair of men into the bathroom. Detective Faraday made an uneasy movement, and Cara glanced in the mirror to see him fiddling with his watch. She studied the four other reflections before turning to face her two suspects. One had pale orange eyes and long canines. The other had chest hair so long it poked above the top of his t-shirt.
Cara looked at the hairy one. "We'll start with you, wolf."
The wolf shifter gave her a narrow-eyed glare. "I was enjoying a steak when I needed to mark some territory, if you get my drift." He jerked his chin at the orange-eyed man. "I came in and found that vampire standing over the body."
"Untrue," said the orange-eyed vampire in a clipped tone. "I was the one who came in and found him with the corpse."
Cara looked at Detective Faraday, who shrugged. "They were both here when officers responded. The throat's so torn up, we can't tell which one attacked the man, but I have a dental consultant coming in to compare the bite marks to their teeth."
"No need for that," said Cara. "I can tell you right now who's guilty."
Cara waved toward the wolf. "Arrest him. He's your killer."
"What?" shouted the wolf. "You have no proof!"
"The faucet was running, which means the victim was washing his hands when he was attacked," said Cara. "But the back of his head hit the sink. He must have seen his attacker in the mirror and turned around to defend himself." She pointed at the mirror, at the six reflections for seven people. "As you can see, this vampire has no reflection. The victim wouldn't have seen him coming, therefore he can't be the killer."
As the officers hauled the still-protesting wolf from the bathroom, Detective Faraday shook his head. "This assignment will take some getting used to."
"They all say that at first." Cara stripped off her plastic gloves and then pulled a business card from her pocket. "Here," she said, handing it to Faraday. "The other cops have this, but if you need me, call that number."
"P.I." Faraday read. "Paranormal investigator. Does that first word describe you, or your work?"
Cara laughed as she headed for the door. She did not answer.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Author Comments

The Cara Watt stories were inspired by the two-minute mysteries by Donald J. Sobol, featuring Dr. Haledijan the sleuth solving various cases alongside the reader. My husband and I enjoyed reading Dr. Haledjian's adventures aloud together, and the pairing of the interactive mystery style with a paranormal setting seemed like a perfect fit.

- A. C. Spahn
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